By Bresha Pierce
Baylor students gathered to mourn the loss of three University of North Carolina students for a candlelight service at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Bill Daniel Student Building.
Almost a week earlier, two women called 911 at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday to report multiple gunshots and screams in an apartment complex near the University of North Carolina, according to a University of North Carolina press release. The three students, Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were dead at the scene, police reported.
Even though Baylor students were not at the incident, they wanted to remember the three students with a candlelight vigil.
“I wanted people to come together and know that there are things going on in the world but at the same time we need to keep in mind that we have a commitment and responsibility to remember that every life matters,” said Plano senior Raayan Islam.
About 50 Baylor students came together Sunday evening and showed respect, through prayer and moments of silence, to the lives that were lost.
“We want Baylor University to be a place of peace and love,” Islam said. “Where we can go about our day with full comfort and confidence of being who we naturally are, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or political views.”
The victims’ families described the murders as hate crime. The University of North Carolina Police Department stated in a press release that it is still investigating the incident.
“What we witnessed in Chapel Hill was a tragedy,” Islam said. “It’s disheartening to see and hear about what just happened and so I think as students we have a responsibility especially being at a university to commemorate what they stood for. At the end of the day we mourn for their death and we gather tonight to remember their loss.”
As students lit and held candles, Islam and Waco junior Hasan Waqar spoke to the gathering. Waqar read a speech given by Barakat’s sister the day after the incident.
“We are out here paying our respects to the students who lost their lives,” Waqar said. “It is very sad and we just want to keep them in our prayers and know we care for them and support their families.”
Islam said he is considering hosting more events in the future regarding this incident.
“They stood as an ideal to strive for, representing the virtues of putting others needs before their own, extraordinary work ethic, and a continuous love for members of their community with smiles and laughs. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones and the Chapel Hill community,” Islam said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.